A horrifying incident occurred on Sunday afternoon when the concrete roof of a school gymnasium in China’s northeast collapsed, resulting in a devastating loss of life.
According to reports, at least 11 people were killed, most of whom were young girls engaged in a game of netball during their practice session. The incident took place at No. 34 Middle School, located in the Longsha District of Qiqihar, Heilongjiang province.
The provincial fire and rescue department, along with the official Xinhua news agency, reported that the catastrophic collapse happened at approximately 2:56 pm (06:56 GMT) on Sunday. Initially, there were 15 people trapped under the debris, and rescue efforts were undertaken to save them. Tragically, on Monday morning, the authorities retrieved the last remaining person from the rubble, a student who showed no vital signs.
Eyewitnesses at the scene revealed that a female volleyball team, comprising students from various grades, was practicing in the gymnasium at the time of the incident. The team had recently returned from an out-of-town competition when the unfortunate event took place. It remains unclear whether any adults were among the victims.
Authorities disclosed that 19 people were inside the gymnasium when the collapse occurred, and only four managed to escape the disaster.
Heartbroken parents rushed to the local hospital, anxiously awaiting news of their loved ones. One father, who had a 16-year-old daughter in the volleyball team, expressed his anguish and frustration over the lack of communication from the authorities. He revealed that all the children were covered in mud and blood when they were brought to the hospital, making it challenging to identify them properly.
Videos circulating on social media captured the devastating aftermath of the incident. The gymnasium’s roof was completely flattened, and rescue workers were seen sifting through the debris in search of survivors. Large cranes were also deployed to aid in the ongoing rescue efforts.
Investigations into the cause of the collapse have commenced, and initial findings suggest that construction workers had illegally placed perlite, a water-absorbing mineral, on the gymnasium roof while constructing an adjacent teaching building. The region had experienced heavy rain and flooding over the weekend, causing the perlite to absorb water and significantly increase the weight, ultimately leading to the catastrophic collapse.
Authorities have taken individuals responsible for the construction company into police custody as part of the ongoing investigation. Meanwhile, the entire nation mourns the tragic loss of young lives and hopes for swift justice and stringent measures to prevent such incidents in the future.